By Rachel Dove
SPICE CREEK - A search and rescue mission that took place Thursday morning near Gilbert ended on a happy note, with a missing man located within the first hour of the operation.
Doug Goolsby, the interim director of Mingo County Emergency Services and Homeland Security, told the Daily News that he was contacted at approximately 3 a.m. Thursday by Chief Mike Tolley of the Gilbert Volunteer Fire Department concerning Jeffrey Robinette, 40, of Spice Creek, who had been reported missing.
Tolley said that he received the call at about 2:30 a.m. According to the information he was provided, Robinette and a friend had been in the hills for a large part of the day in a search for yellow root. A time had been agreed on for the duo to walk out of the mountainous area and meet back up, but Robinette never returned. Family members were notified and they attempted to locate the missing man on their own but were unsuccessful. When they began to fear for his safety, the call requesting help was placed.
Since there was no inclement weather in the early hours of Thursday, the decision was made to begin the search for Robinette after daybreak. Goolsby met with the volunteer firefighters and members of the missing man’s family and they formed search and rescue teams.
Tolley expressed his appreciation to the park ranger of R.D. Bailey Lake for his cooperation and assistance in the search, as well as his agreement to allow the searchers to access U.S. Corps of Engineer property in the area the man was believed to be in. A mobile command center was established in the Spruce Creek vicinity and approximately 45 minutes later, the park ranger and his search team reported that they had located Robinette.
The victim had suffered numerous scratches and abrasions to a large portion of his body, as well as numerous bug bites.
“He was dirty, wet and dehydrated, but other than that he was fine,” Tolley said. “He refused medical treatment and was just very glad to be going home.”
Goolsby said he was very pleased that the situation turned out on a positive note, and asked to thank everyone who assisted in the search.
“Thankfully, we located Mr. Robinette in a short amount of time and, other than minor injuries, he came out of the ordeal unscathed,” Goolsby said. “That’s a great feeling.”